By Mrs Tawny M Dotson (Army Medicine)June 16, 2011
Every graduation speech is judged by its delivery, its content, and its impact.
This graduation was a homerun in many categories, but it may have been the speech that took the experience for Army Medicine’s newest healthcare professionals to the highest level.
More than 140 residents and interns became independent healthcare professionals June 3 in a graduation ceremony for Madigan Healthcare System’s Graduate Medical Education at Joint Base Lewis-McChord’s Co-located Club on McChord Field.
The speaker at the event, Maj. Gen. Lloyd Miles, I Corps’ deputy commander, made their role as Army medicine health¬care professionals relevant and set the stage for what these pro¬fessionals will do and how it is perceived on the battlefield.
“I really struggled with what I was going to talk about,” said Miles. “I finally decided that when I spoke to you today I would tell you a personal story about what your profession means to me.”
Miles recounted the story of a grenade blast he was involved in. Miles was thrown nearly 12 feet in the air.
“My body felt like it was nailed to the ground on fire. My mouth felt like it was full of pebbles. I would find out later that those were actually my teeth that had been shattered in the blast,” said Miles.
Miles counted his fingers, which were intact, and then looked down to his legs.
He was bleeding from his left leg, which had been blown off beneath the knee.
Shrapnel had passed underneath his body armor and hit below his jaw.
“I was not in good shape,” said Miles. “I spent one year in Walter Reed Army Medical Center and one year in rehab as an outpatient.”
Miles lauded the efforts of military doctors, who got him to where he is today.
Although he walks with a prosthetic, he has deployed since his wounds have healed and led troops into combat again.
“I was able to continue serving…I tell you that not to say something about me, but to say something about you,” said Miles “It really is pretty amazing what Army medicine can do. Those docs there literally saved my life…I was worried about what I was going to do with my life. I only had one usable limb. Those docs didn’t give up. Those docs kept at me. I was able to hope again, dream again.”
Miles went on to tell the new grads his advice for their future as Army doctors and leaders.
“There is a saying in the Army that I believe is true no matter where you go in life. ‘Soldiers will not care what you know until they know that you care.’ They just don’t care where you went to school or what you’ve accomplished until they can look at you in the eyes and know that you care,” said Miles.
His final words for the group set the mood for their walk across the stage that ended their residency, internships and fellowships and began their work as leaders and healthcare professionals.
“Do for those young troops, what your predecessors did for me. Work hard. Give them hope. A hope for life,” said Miles.
Following Miles’ speech a series of awards were given to some of the days’ best graduates and their teachers in their residencies.
The Outstanding Resident Teaching Award was presented to Capt. Aaron Matlock.
The Maj. Gen. Steger Research Award was presented to Capt. Christen Bunch for performance of outstanding research.
The Maj. Gen. Wergeland Award for the outstanding four-year resident was presented to Capt. Stephen Parada.
The Col. Skelton Award, for the outstanding two- or three-year resident, was presented to Capt. Megan Barnwell.
Awards were also presented to some of the residents’ teachers, advisors and program coordinators.
The Outstanding Staff Teaching Award was presented to Lt. Col. James Sebeska.
The Lt. Col. Munaretto Outstanding Educator Award was presented to Maj. Christian Cox for demonstrating teaching excellence.
The Outstanding Residency Coordinator Award, a new award for the residency coordinator who demonstrates excellence in administration and management of a Graduate Education Program, was given to Jennifer Dunbar who coordinates the Emergency Medicine Residency Program.
Finally the candidates were presented for graduation.
They each took a walk across the stage, shaking the hands of Miles, their advisors, Col. (Dr.) Dallas Homas, Madigan’s commander, and Col. Stephen Salerno, director of graduate medical education and stepping into their new world as healthcare professionals.